Greetings evaluation colleagues!
We are Rodney Hopson and Sonya Horsford, and we recently started H&H Strategies, Ltd., a DC-based consulting group providing strategic planning and evaluation solutions to organizations committed to improving program and service delivery in the nonprofit, for profit, government, university, education, and social service sectors. In addition to serving as principals of this new firm, we are both faculty members in the Graduate School of Education at George Mason University focusing on education policy, leadership, research, and evaluation.
In a recent evaluation with a client, despite providing background and experience, we encountered questions and concerns about our ability to meet our client’s changing needs. To address such concerns, we offer some “hot tips” and “lessons learned” that focus directly on the issue of evaluator credibility and reiterate the importance of establishing credibility and trust as early as possible in the process (preferably before it begins!) to maximize the effectiveness in working with clients who may have limited background or experience in program evaluation.
- The discussion on evaluator credibility is a dynamic to be established and maintained throughout the evaluation.
- Evaluator credibility is not to be confused with a set of documents like a vita or a set of credentials presented before an evaluation begins.
- Refer to the evaluator credibility standard (U1) of the Joint Committee Standards for Educational Evaluation Program Evaluation Standards 3rd edition, which states: Evaluations should be conducted by qualified people who establish and maintain credibility in the evaluation context.
- Recognize the dynamic nature of building and developing credibility for several purposes:
- Building trust among community members or stakeholders in the evaluation process;
- Addressing negative evaluation findings anticipated or disclosed in situations where conflict needs managing; and
- Acknowledging unique cultural values, beliefs, identities often not addressed or understood in mainstream evaluations.
- Asses prior knowledge of program evaluand and be certain to develop importance of context in evaluation work; and
- Continually explain evaluation processes by developing and maintaining stakeholder buy-in throughout and not just at the initial point of entry in the evaluation.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Washington Evaluators (WE) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from WE Affiliate members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.